Australia bans all overseas travel

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Vibrant sunrise brings positivity to Melbourne

"They can't do it, because when they come home that's when they put Australians at risk" said Morrison during the press conference.

He also said "Sunday barbeques" should be cancelled but added that Australians should exercise their "common sense" on what social contact with friends and family is acceptable.

A new COVID-19 text messaging campaign, announced by the government on Wednesday, caused further consternation after the first message failed to include the most recent advice to stay home unless "absolutely necessary". "I'm not going to do that lightly", he said.

"We have been making the point for some time".

I had hoped that would have been fully complied with and I've got to say, Australians have been pretty good about it.

"If we do all these things, then we are going to be able to put greater pressure on slowing the rate of the spread of this virus", Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Non-urgent elective surgeries in Australia's public and private hospitals will be banned from midnight in a bid to preserve the healthcare system to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don't want to have yielded up is a year of a child's education, which is so important".

Mr Morrison said some states would be considering criminal penalties for people who hold large house parties. "Where possible the National Cabinet together is going to try and keep Australia functioning in a way that continues to support jobs and activity in our economy which is not going to compromise the health advice that we're receiving".

"These measures are really draconian ..."

In the real estate space, real estate auctions and open house inspections are closed.

"Weddings can continue to be conducted where it is just the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses, that's no more than five people", he said.

Amusement parks and arcades are now included.

Funerals are limited to no more than 10 people.

Schools will remain open for "essential workers", a term that was broadly defined.

Following a meeting with state and territory leaders, Morrison said previous "do-not-travel" warning issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will turn into a ban from Wednesday.

The country, where many schools remain open, has now recorded eight deaths and more than 2,000 cases, and is beginning to track others, experiencing sharp increases in recorded infections.

Only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are now advised to be tested.

"Some of the sickest patients we've had in NSW have been younger people", he said.

"We are very anxious about the rate of the rise", said Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia's chief medical officer.



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